Blantyre — As one way of showing commitment towards the protection of a girl child in the country President Dr Joyce Banda has established a Special Committee on the Acceleration of Girls Education in Malawi.
The President disclosed this on Thursday at Sanjika Palace during an audience with High Level Task Force for Women, Girls, Gender Equality and HIV for Eastern and Southern Africa saying this committee will look at how to overcome traditional barriers to girls’ education, such as early marriages and pregnancies.
The Head of State then called upon relevant authorities to hold the necessary consultations and lobbying to ensure that the country attain the right to support for the age of marriage in Malawi to be raised to at least 18 years for both boys and girls to give them time to acquire enough education before marriage.
“There is no question about my personal commitment to the raising of the marriage age. I am however aware that this is a delicate issue among some traditional leaders, conservative communities, faith leaders and some legislators.
“That is why, in my opinion, it is best that we do our homework by engaging all stakeholders and bring the bill to parliament at the right time for us to succeed,” said the President Banda.
The president highlighted that there is so much that the country can achieve through working with traditional leaders who are guardians of traditional culture. She said the T/A’s ability to mobilise support within their communities will be crucial in promoting and protecting girl child at a local level.
The president said she was very pleased to learn that some chiefs have already started taking big strides in promoting the girl child through the creation of a Declaration of Commitment to be signed by Paramount and Senior Chiefs.
“This declaration focuses on issues of the girl child in a holistic way, looking at education, gender-based violence, sexual and reproductive health and rights, early marriages, and HIV, while also taking advantage of the positive aspects of our culture and cultural ceremonies to support these efforts,” delighted the head of state.
In her remarks leader of the High Level Task Force for Women, Girls, Gender Equality and HIV for Eastern and Southern delegation, Professor Sheila Tlou who is UNAIDS Regional Director commended President Dr Joyce Banda for her efforts in improving the welfare of the girl child education and her continued support to girls’ education.
She however requested for the formation of a high level committee which will oversee the enactment of the marriage bill so that more girls should be able to complete their education before marriage.
BY YAMIKANI YAPUWA
1 NOVEMBER 2013
The report brings together a wide range of data on education, HIV, sexual health and gender equality to paint a more detailed picture of the day-to-day realities of adolescents and young people living in 21 countries in Eastern and Southern Africa. The findings show that, despite important gains made in reducing the transmission and impact of HIV, there is still a long way to go. Every hour, 50 young people in this region become infected with HIV yet less than 40% of young people have adequate HIV knowledge. Unintended and adolescent pregnancy is a major issue affecting girls and young women with approximately one in five girls aged 17 having already had a child. Gender inequality is still widespread, and girls between the ages of 20 – 24 are particularly vulnerable to gender-based violence.
The recommendations in the report are clear: adolescents and young people deserve better, and they need both the education and health sectors to work together and commit to taking bold action. Such bold action includes reviewing, and where necessary amending, policies or laws that that limit access to the education and health services that adolescents and young people need to live healthy and fulfilling lives.
Furthermore, countries need to deliver good quality, age-appropriate comprehensive sexuality education that starts at primary school and continues through secondary school. Youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services must be made widely available including commodities that will help prevent HIV and pregnancy, including condoms. Many countries provide some level of HIV or life skills education, but this is rarely comprehensive, or provided at an appropriate age. As one young woman quoted in the report says “Sexuality is not about sex. It is about your body, and what happens as you grow.” The report also concludes that gender equality must be prioritised in the delivery of education and health services to ensure that both boys and girls can achieve their full potential.
The report will be launched on 4 October 2013, in Johannesburg, South Africa by representatives of many of the collaborating partners including UNESCO, UNFPA, WHO and UNAIDS. The authors present a vision for the future of a young African, a global citizen of the future, who is healthy, resilient and socially responsible, who is an autonomous decision-maker with the capacity to reach his or her full potential and contribute to the development of their community, country and the region.
Prof. Sheila Tlou, Director, UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Eastern and Southern Africa and chairperson of the High Level Group providing leadership for the Young People Today initiative said, “As we approach 2015, it is time for urgent action by our governments, young people and civil society to re-affirm the rights of young people to a better future. We have a duty to make good quality HIV and sexuality education and sexual and reproductive health services a reality for all.”
With the mobilization and advocacy efforts of UN partners, NGOs and young people, as well as political commitment from leaders, there is a shared sense of hope that the 21 countries in this region heavily affected by HIV can turn this vision into reality in the coming years.
- Read the full report: www.unesco.org/aids or www.youngpeopletoday.net
- UNESCO Comprehensive Sexuality Education webpages
3 October 2013
Unesco Education Sector
The civil society organizations of Africa recognize African governments and development partners for the progress that has been made towards the realization of the commitments of the ICPD Programme of Action (PoA). Since 1994 governments have formulated various policies to contextualize the ICPD PoA, and they have adopted various regional protocols to reinforce the ICPD and other development frameworks.In spite of the gains, there are marked deficiencies in implementation, and Africa has realized the least progress in most ICPD and related MDG indicators.We call upon African governments and development partners to urgently demonstrate political will and commitment to the ICPD agenda by mobilizing financial resources and enabling implementation of interventions to address the continent’s population and development challenges.Actions must be guided by: Human Rights principles, integrity, transparency and accountability, inclusiveness, and strong partnerships with the private sector, CSOs and communities.
1. Under Human Security, Environment and Population Mobility, CSOs recommend the following:
1.1 Intensify peace-building, conflict prevention and resolution mechanisms within countries and across borders
1.2 Enhance provision of relief and related social services to people affected by conflict, particularly women and girls, refugees, internally displaced people, and persons with disabilities
1.3 Reinforce the development and enforcement of laws and programs to end the culture of violence and impunity that is perpetuated by militarization, fundamentalism, patriarchy, and human trafficking.
1.4 Strengthen local, national and regional justice systems to bring those who commit war crimes and crimes against humanity to justice.
1.5 Ensure food security and strengthen agricultural productivity and livelihoods
1.6 Enact national policies and bilateral agreements that protect the human rights of African migrant workers within and outside Africa especially women, in line with ILO conventions.
1.7 Urgently implement AU Heads of State Decision to remove visa and related restrictions to facilitate the freedom of movement within Africa.
1.8 Reinforce efforts to enhance the role of Africans in the diaspora in Africa’s development,
1.9 Promote rural development to reduce rural-urban migration and improve urban planning, governance and infrastructure
1.10 All governments and other stakeholders should reinforce integration of population dynamics and the environment at all levels of development planning and programme implementation.
2. Under Inclusive Economic Transformation we recommend the following:
2.1 Maximize Africa’s chances of harnessing the Demographic Dividend by investing in people and enhancing inclusive economic growth
2.2 Develop review and enact national policies and laws to ensure that trade and investment agreements with multinationals, foreign governments, and local companies are transparent, strategic, and prevent exploitative business practices and capital flight.
2.3 Strengthen governance, political and economic systems that are grounded in the Human Rights framework, integrity and accountability in use of public resources and service delivery, inclusiveness and investment in human development.
2.4 Enact laws that strengthen the capacity of communities to access, control and manage land, energy, technology and information, especially for women, youth, persons with disabilities, and indigenous people.
2.5 Institute and extend social protection mechanisms to safeguard the wellbeing of vulnerable groups by recognizing and rewarding women for their role in taking care of the children, the sick, the elderly, persons with disability, and other disadvantaged people, among other mechanisms.
3. Regarding Education and Employment, we recommend that Governments and Stakeholders should:
3.1 Reform and harmonise formal and non-formal education systems and curricula to ensure quality education that fosters innovation, development of productive skills, spirit of entrepreneurship, and visionary leadership that meets emerging needs of local and global economies.
3.2 Ensure universal enrolment, retention, and progression at primary, secondary and tertiary levels
3.3 Develop and fully implement policies and programs to prevent and address all forms of school-based violence
3.4 Ensure relevance of education that includes promoting technical, vocational education and training programs, making use of new information and communication technologies that are applicable to current labour market trends and demands.
3.5 Intensify efforts to create employment, alternative livelihoods and enhance the civil and political participation for young people and their role as agents of socioeconomic change and development.
4. On Health and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, we urge governments to:
4.1 Operationalize the right to health by adopting equity, rights-based planning and resource-allocation,
4.2 Prioritize and adequately finance universal access to comprehensive, quality and integrated SRH services including adequate counselling, information and education; access to full range of acceptable, affordable, safe, effective and high-quality contraceptives of choice, comprehensive maternity care, access to comprehensive abortion care, prevention and treatment of infertility, STIs, reproductive cancers and other diseases.
4.3 Repeal laws criminalizing access to safe abortion in line with the provisions of Article 14 of the Maputo Protocol.
4.4 Create awareness and ensure that the right to health, especially SRHR, for all people including marginalized groups is respected
4.5 Remove existing barriers, including requirements for spousal and parental consent, to women and young people gaining access to family planning, comprehensive abortion care, and other reproductive health services.
4.6 Implement the MPoA commitment to allocate 15% of the health budget to family planning and address all demand and supply oriented barriers of access to, and use of family planning.
4.7 Implement and fully fund, quality, evidence-based comprehensive sexuality education programmes for both in and out-of-school youth that is relevant to each age group.
4.8 Strengthen male involvement as advocates, clients and equal partners on SRHR, including in the promotion of gender equality and SRHR of women and girls.
4.9 Eliminate sexual and gender based violence in private and public spheres,
4.10 Strengthen and enforce laws that end child, early and forced marriage and set minimum legal age of marriage to 18.
4.11 Formulate and implement policies and programs that promote positive African cultures, and challenge harmful traditional practices.
We also recognise the role of Monitoring, Transparency and Accountability and we urge all stakeholders to –
Strengthen the capacities of local experts and institutions in generation, analysis, and use of data and research evidence to ensure evidence-based decision-making and transparent monitoring and accountability processes for all aspects of the ICPD and other development agendas.
In conclusion, if governments, development partners and other stakeholders implement the recommendations above, Africa will achieve the goals of the ICPD agenda and other development frameworks, harness the Demographic Dividend and achieve sustainable development. 5
Governments and all stakeholders must simultaneously invest in rights-based universal access to family planning and other sexual and reproductive health services, public health, quality education, adopt economic policies that will create employment, and ensure accountable use of public financial and natural resources.
Download the document here.
On 30th September – 4th October 2013, the African Regional Conference on Population and Development will be held in Addis Ababa to review progress toward the ICPD Programme of Action. This conference will bring together representatives from African government, civil society and youth organisations, and will agree a set of priorities, challenges and emerging issues for the African region.
Are you in(vited)?
From the 24th-25th September, youths from across Africa will come together during the Youth Pre-conference to identify their priorities. This will be followed by the CSO Pre-conference to be held on 26th-27th September (also tasked with identification of priorities). These combined recommendations will be presented before the experts prior to the Ministerial meeting from 30th– 4th September, 2013.
Are you in(formed)?
In response to the ICPD Programme of Action (PoA), the African Union Commission (AUC), AAI and the African Population Commission (APC) worked together to develop the African Common Position on ICPD by means of Regional Consultative Meetings which was followed by a second round of E-consultations. This generated recommendations from over 70 African experts in line with key themes within the document. On completion and adoption of all these recommendations, 342 civil society organizations signed the CSO African Common Position endorsing it as a document that represents their needs going into the Sept conference and ICPD Review process.
The CSO ACP was submitted to H.E. Dr. Mustapha S. Kaloko, the Commissioner of Social Affairs at the AUC on 5 June, 2013. The CSO African Common Position on ICPD is expected to inform the youth, CSO pre-conference documents and the experts meeting. We are currently lobbying those who will be in the experts’ room, and ensuring ministers of health receive a copy of the CSO African Common Position on ICPD prior to the conference. In addition, we continue circulating the CSO African Common Position through all our social media platforms.
Are you in(volved)?
Read more on the African Common Position on ICPD, as this document contains a set of recommendations aimed at the African Union Commission and Africa’s national governments so as to address population and development issues on the African Continent in the ICPD+20 review process. This will ensure your meaningful participation at the Regional Conference on Population and Development as we advocate for key priorities for Africa. We further ask you to be involved by lobbying your contacts too for inclusion of contents of the CSO African Common Position and vote at the Regional Conference on Population and Development. Lastly, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn for continued updates.
To make it easier for you, AAI has distilled the full Civil Society African Common Position on ICPD into a 2 page Key Messages in Brief document
The African Common Position is also available in Portuguese, French and Arabic:
We sincerely hope that you will find the above information useful as we prepare for the Regional Conference on Population and Development.
The AAI Team
Failure to include reproductive health for women as a priority affects sub-Saharan African economies, expert says
Failure for Sub-Saharan African countries to work towards achieving Millennium Development Goals on health will impact all other aspects of development including economic growth, Akatsa Bukachi, Director, Eastern Africa Sub-region Support Initiative for the Advancement of women (EASSI) has said.
Speaking to Africa Science News in Busia town, Bukachi said the Sub-Saharan Africa region is deficient in areas of reproductive health that is crucial for addressing the MDG on Children and maternal in health. Bukachi observed that reproductive health is fundamental in the advancement of women and girl child in Africa.
She noted that the African continent will only achieve its MDG on health if proper incentives to improve family planning, reduce maternal mortality and prevent HIV/Aids infections are prioritized. Family planning as a strong component of better reproductive health has steadily declined in the recent years in sub-Saharan Africa but it needs to be prioritised.
In the last 10 years, Sub-Saharan Africa region still grapples with the highest number of maternal mortality ratio of 500 maternal deaths in 100,000 lives.
Bukachi said that despite most countries in the region boasting that the number of women dying as a result of pregnancy and child birth-related complications has declined to 47 percent from more than 543,000 to 287,000 cases globally has been registered, nonetheless, the war against maternal mortality especially is far from over. She called for synergy to advocate for a strong pillar in reproductive health agenda.
The Director disclosed that reproductive health challenges are huge and women should take their positions in addressing the problems.
The Eastern Africa Sub-region Support Initiative for the Advancement of women is on the front to advocate for a complete diet and women girl child health situation in Eastern Africa Region.
In most cases in Africa continent, nutrition has always played out in the rising statistics of maternal mortality ratio in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The organisation operates in eight Eastern Africa Countries namely Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Somalia. Other countries in clued; Ethiopia, Rwanda, Eritrea and Burundi.
By Cheki Abuje
On the eve of the 10th anniversary of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol), the Coalition of the campaign, Africa for Womens’ Rights : Ratify and Respect reiterates its call for the continental ratification of this progressive instrument within the African human rights system and for its effective implementation.
Adopted on July 11, 2013, to complement and strengthen the articles of the African Charter related to the protection and promotion of women’s rights, the Maputo Protocol is an important instrument of reference. Its provisions, with regard to civil and political rights, physical and psychological integrity, sexual and reproductive health, non-discrimination, economic emancipation, among others, symbolise African States’ commitments to put an end to discrimination, violence and gender stereotypes against women.
« The adoption of the Maputo Protocol was an exceptional moment, historical for the realisation of the rights of women in Africa. Today, this instrument constitutes a model, a endless source of inspiration. Provided its ratification and full implementation, it can represent a real tool of action for the lasting transformation of our societies » declared Soyata Maiga, Special Rapporteur of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) on the rights of women in Africa.
36 out of 54 member States of the African Union (AU) have so far ratified the Protocol, a clear victory for those who over the years have tirelessly mobilised and worked to achieve this goal. Moreover, in many countries, legal and institutional measures, such as laws prosecuting perpetrators of sexual violence (Kenya, Liberia), criminalising domestic violence (Ghana, Mozambique), prohibiting female genital mutilation (Uganda, Zimbabwe) or establishing mechanisms mandated to promote women’s rights (Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal), have accompanied these ratifications.
See the interview of Soyata Maiga, Special Rapporteur of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) on the rights of women in Africa, on the progress made and challenges remaining since the adoption of the Protocol (interview conducted on 10 July 2013)
Despite these notable achievements, there are still some obstacles to the full realisation of women’s rights on the continent. Eighteen (18) states , have still not ratified the Protocol, and in several of these countries – including Sudan, Central African Republic or Egypt, which still facing serious political crisis or situations of armed conflicts – women continue to be the main targets of violence, discrimination and stigmatisation.
For Sheila Nabachwa, FIDH Vice President and Ag. Deputy Executive Director (Programs) at the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI – Uganda), «Non-State Parties should understand that, today, the trend goes on the other side. 10 years after its adoption, it is time for these States to ratify the Protocol and accept that the guarantee and protection of women’s fundamental rights can no longer suffer from political, cultural or religious considerations or pretexts ».
In State Parties, several of the rights enshrined in the Protocol, or provided within national laws, are yet to be fully implemented. In DRC, Guinea-Conakry, Mali, thousands of women victims of sexual violence continue to demand justice and compensation; in Uganda, they are still waiting for equality within the family to be recognised ; in Nigeria, they continue to fight for their right to property to become a reality. Unfortunately, most of the State Parties do not respect their obligation, under article 26 of the Protocol, to indicate, in their periodic reports submitted to the ACHPR, the measures undertaken for the full realisation of women’s rights as provided within the Maputo Protocol.
«The adoption of the Maputo Protocol by African States represented a formidable progress from a legal point of view ; its effective implementation should now symbolise the respect of the obligations they have freely consented to abide by » declared Mabassa Fall, FIDH Representative to the African Union.
On this tenth anniversary of the Maputo Protocol, the Coalition of the Campaign Africa for Women’s Rights: Ratify and Respect pays tribute to the determination and courage of the women and men who advocate tirelessly to ensure that the rights guaranteed in the Maputo Protocol are not lost. In this regard, our Coalition notes with concerns the repeated attacks in several countries against women activists, a phenomenon that must be taken seriously and to which States must respond without delay. The Coalition of the Campaign calls on all national, regional and international actors to join the considerable efforts that are made on a daily basis for the ratification and enforcement of the Maputo Protocol.
SOURCE : International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH)10 July 2013
The United Nations designates every July 11 to highlight issues related to population growth, including environmental sustainability, global development, health care and youth empowerment.
With 16 million girls under 18 giving birth and 3.2 million of these teens experiencing unsafe abortions each year, the U.N. has focused the theme of 2013′s World Population Day on teenage pregnancy, highlighting the important role that teen girls play in positively impacting future generations and underscoring the importance of providing them with adequate health care and educational resources.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released a statement today raising awareness about the dangers and complications of unplanned teenage pregnancies.
“Complications from pregnancy and childbirth can cause grave disabilities, such as obstetric fistula, and are the leading cause of death for these vulnerable young women,” he wrote. “Adolescent girls also face high levels of illness, injury and death due to unsafe abortion.”
The Secretary-General also proposed various solutions to address core issues of the teen pregnancy epidemic.
“To address these problems, we must get girls into primary school and enable them to receive a good education through their adolescence. When a young girl is educated, she is more likely to marry later, delay childbearing until she is ready, have healthier children, and earn a higher income,” he stated.
Several nonprofits worldwide have taken to Twitter to highlight the issue of population growth and this year’s theme of teen pregnancy.
By Nader Salass
11 July 2013
Antiretroviral medication was distributed on Tuesday to Gauteng clinics experiencing a shortage of supplies, health MEC Hope Papo said.
“We understand that a shortage of drugs places a heavy burden on patients who have to make many trips to the clinics,” Papo said in a statement.
“We are also sensitive to the fact that patients my develop drug resistance if they do not take their medication regularly. It is for this reason that we are taking every possible step to stabilise drug supply in the province.”
Papo said a total of 50,000 units of Lamivudine was delivered to the Helen Joseph hospital on Tuesday morning, and it would be delivered to clinics in Ekurhuleni, on the East Rand.
More stock was expected to be distributed on Wednesday, Papo said.
In a statement, the department said the Daveyton East clinic, which had inadequate ARV supplies, was among the first clinics to receive stock.
On Tuesday, the Health Professionals’ Sector of SA National Aids Council (Sanac) expressed concern at the shortage of ARV medication in the province.
“It is sad to note that some of the patients in East Rand clinics are reported to have gone for a week without their antiretroviral drugs,” Sanac said in a statement.
“This, we believe, compromises compliance, as antiretroviral drugs can prolong life only when taken correctly and timely.”
Sanac said it would be difficult to fight the epidemic if problems of medication supply were still happening.
“We wish to urge the Gauteng department of health to strengthen its procurement and distribution systems so that such an occurrence does not happen in future.”
Department spokesman Simon Zwane said the shortage was caused because of capacity at the suppliers, and that the department was looking at ways of improving capacity at the depots.
By The Sowetan
10 July 2013
Nairobi, Kenya: â Building on impressive strides made, sub-Saharan Africa must continue to ramp up efforts towards achieving many of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by their 2015 target date, a new UN report says. The Millennium Development Goals Report 2013 launched today by UNSecretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Geneva, finds that sub-Saharan Africa has made steady progress for its 1 billion people, with fewer mothers and children dying, growing numbers of women in power and broadened access to health and education services, alongside sharp drops in malaria and tuberculosis deaths.
The eight Millennium Development Goals, with a number of sub-targets covering a range of poverty, hunger, health, gender equality, education and environmental indicators, were agreed by all countries as an outgrowth of the UN Millennium Summit in 2000, most with a due date of 2015.
The MDG Report 2013 emphasizes that progress for all children in sub-Saharan Africa is âwithin our grasp.â The region doubled its average rate of reduction of child deaths from 1.5 per cent a year in 1990-2000 to 3.1 per cent a year in 2000-2011, although it still has the highest child mortality rate in the world. From 1990 to 2011 for children under age five, the mortality rate dropped by 39 per cent (from 178 deaths per 1,000 live births to 109) and the proportion of those who are underweight dropped from 29 to 21 per cent. Some countries with high under-five death rates, including Ethiopia, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger and Rwanda, reported reductions of at least 60 per cent.
The report says steady progress has been made in expanding access to primary education in the region, with primary school enrolment rates increasing from 60 per cent to 77 per cent between 2000 and 2011.
Efforts to combat diseases are paying off in lives saved, as the region is on its way to halting the spread and reversing the incidence of tuberculosis and is making substantial progress battling malaria. One-third of children were sleeping under insecticide-treated nets in 2011, up from less than 5 per cent in 2000. Among developing regions, sub-Saharan Africa has the second highest access to HIV treatment â 56 per cent of people living with HIV received antiretroviral therapy in 2011.
However, sub-Saharan Africa remains the most severely affected area by HIV. Indicators for women are also improving. Despite having the highest maternal mortality ratio among all regions, sub-Saharan
Africa saw mortality ratios fall by 41 per cent over the past two decades, from 850 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 500 in 2010.The report says the proportion of parliamentary seats held by women increased from 13 per cent in 2000 to 21 per cent in 2013, the second highest among all developing regions. Globally, one of the highest electoral gains for women in 2012 was seen in Senegal, where women took 43 per cent of parliamentary seats.
The proportion of the regionâs population using an improved water source increased from 49 per cent to 63 per cent between 1990 and 2011, according to the report. New sanitation policies adopted in recent years throughout the developing world have shown remarkable success in ending open defecation, a practice that poses serious health and environmental risks to individuals and entire communities. In almost 100 countries, many in sub-Saharan Africa, new approaches to sanitation have taken root and the number of declared âopen-defecation-free villagesâ is rising .The proportion of the worldâs population resorting to open defecation declined from 24 per cent in 1990 to 15 per cent in 2011.
Building MDG momentum
Work to boost MDG achievement must continue to tackle some of the greatest challenges for the region, the report says. That includes bolstering development efforts to further reduce the poverty rate, which fell only 8 percentage points over the last two decades, and addressing the needs of 414 million people still living on less than $1.25 a day. Accelerated efforts are also needed to continue gains in combating HIV and to build on the momentum in fighting malaria through the use of insecticide-treated nets. The region had the worldâs highest child mortality rate and the second highest prevalence of underweight children among all regions in 2011. That year, one in nine children died before age five, more than 16 times the average for developed regions, accounting for 3.4 million of the 6.9 million under-five deaths worldwide. The pace of change must accelerate even further if the MDG target is to be met, the report says, and efforts must concentrate on countries with the highest number of under-five deaths, such as Nigeria, and countries with the highest under-five death rates, such as Sierra Leone and Somalia, with rates of 180 or more per 1,000 live births.
With the region continuing to face rising demands for education from a growing population, the report says 32 million more children were of primary school age in 2011 than in 2000. Sub-Saharan Africa is also home to more than half the worldâs outof- school children of primary school age (32 million out of 57 million) and it has the highest rate worldwide of children leaving school early. Slightly more than two out of five students who started primary school in 2010 will not make it to the last grade. The report also calls for action to improve access to sanitation and the lives of slum dwellers. Between 1990 and 2011, the proportion of the population using an improved sanitation facility increased marginally from 26 per cent to 30 per cent, and the high proportion of slum dwellers dropped slightlyâfrom 65 per cent in 2000 to 62 per cent in 2012.
At a time when renewed sets of commitments to the MDGs are being made, the report says aid is unfortunately lagging. The report states that bilateral net official development assistance to sub-Saharan Africa amounted to $26.2 billion in 2012, an 8 per cent drop from 2011. The current shift in aid away from the poorest countries and Africa, and towards middle-income countries, will continue, the recent survey suggests, with a greater share of aid being offered in the form of soft loans rather than grants.
The Millennium Development Goals Report, an annual assessment of global and regional progress towards the Goals, reflects the most comprehensive, up-to-date data compiled by over 27 UN and international agencies and is produced by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs. A complete set of the data used to prepare the report is available at mdgs.un.org
By Standard Digital
1 July 2013
MPs in Siberia are to vote on a new law which would allow homosexuals to be flogged publicly as a punishment for their ‘disgrace.’
Ultra conservative MP Alexander Mikhailov says the new law would allow Cossack paratroopers to drag gays off the street for their punishment.
‘I want to call on people to get a healthy perspective of this disgrace,’ he told local media.
‘Our district needs a law that would give paratroopers the right to grab gays on the street and drag them to the city square, where Cossacks would whip them,’ he added. Critics say that Mikhailov’s bill is unlikely to be passed.
But some are worried that it could gain support in Russia’s current anti-gay backlash that has led to laws allowing judges to jail people for ‘promoting’ homosexuality.
In another move that will broaden Russia’s rift with Western nations over gay rights, its politicians passed a bill today barring same-sex foreign couples from adopting Russian children.
The move saw strong signals of support from President Vladimir Putin.
The State Duma, or lower house of parliament, approved the bill by a 444-0 vote in its third and final reading, sending it to the upper chamber, which is also expected to approve it. Both houses are dominated by the United Russia party, which is loyal to Putin.
In power since 2000, Putin has championed socially conservative values and held up the Russian Orthodox Church as a moral compass since he weathered a wave of protests by mostly urban liberals and started a third Kremlin term last year.
He has rejected U.S. and European criticism of a ban on spreading gay ‘propaganda’ among minors that the Duma passed earlier this month that gay rights activists fear has fuelled attacks on homosexuals.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement on Thursday that the ‘propaganda’ ban could stigmatise gays and cause discrimination, and the United States has said it severely restricts freedom of expression and assembly.
The Duma vote to ban adoptions by same-sex couples from abroad came as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has criticised Putin over civil rights, met him at a showcase Russian economic forum in St Petersburg.
Germany has also condemned the gay ‘propaganda’ ban and German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, who is gay, said after its passage that attempts to stigmatise same-sex relationships had no place in a democracy.
Putin says Russia does not discriminate against gays, but he has criticised them for not adding to Russia’s population, which has declined sharply since the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991.
The same-sex adoption ban was rushed through parliament after Putin said in late April that a new French law allowing same-sex marriage went against traditional Russian values. It also bars adoptions by unmarried foreigners from countries where same-sex marriage is legal.
The ban fits into a Kremlin campaign to restrict foreign adoptions, a sensitive issue after Americans and Europeans flooded into Russia in the post-Soviet era to adopt children.
In December, Putin signed a law banning all adoptions by Americans, a move motivated by disputes with Washington over human rights and what Russia says is the insufficient prosecution of adoptive U.S. parents suspected of abuse.
Advocates of adoption say same-sex couples can provide loving homes for children who might otherwise founder in Russia’s troubled system of orphanages. Relatively few Russian couples adopt despite state efforts to promote the practice.
Same-sex marriage is legal in 15 countries, including seven in Western Europe, and in some jurisdictions in the United States and Mexico. Same-sex couples are not recognised under Russian law and cannot adopt.
A March poll by the independent Levada Centre found that 85 per cent of Russians opposed same-sex marriage. But there is no big grassroots movement against gay rights in Russia and critics say the measures are being imposed from the top down.
‘It’s pretty strange to see this major wave of homophobia in a country where two-thirds of society was brought up by same-sex couples – mother and grandmother,’ one Internet user said in an online forum, referring to the problem of absentee fathers.
21 June 2013
By Paul Milligan